Despite spending two months in prison for punching former long-term partner Josie Harris, Floyd Mayweather Jr. has wasted no opportunity to deny and downplay the events of Sept. 9, 2010. In fact, boxing's biggest draw tells a very different version of what happened on the night that ultimately led to his incarceration last summer.
Harris has refused to detail the attack until now, choosing instead to relocate with the three children she shares with Mayweather to Valencia, Calif.
However, after a scene in Showtime's "30 Days In May" – an hour-long documentary used to promote Mayweather's May 4 bout against Robert Guerrero – attempted to rationalize Mayweather's domestic violence conviction, Harris decided to speak out.
In an exclusive interview at her home with Yahoo! Sports, Harris first sought to answer the messages put forward by the documentary:
That she, and her children, had lied.
That Mayweather's incarceration was wrong.
And that the beating was either falsified, embellished, or somehow deserved.
What transpired over the course of an extraordinary three-hour conversation was an intriguing look into the complex mindset of one of sports' most divisive characters.
"Did he beat me to a pulp?" said Josie Harris, sitting in her living room in a development in Valencia. "No, but I had bruises on my body and contusions and [a] concussion because the hits were to the back of my head. I believe it was planned to do that … because the bruises don't show …"
Her voice trails off as she produces a doctor's report describing the injuries following her visit to Southern Hills Hospital in the immediate aftermath of the attack.
Throughout the documentary, Mayweather called the charges "over-exaggerated" and "trumped up," while his team of handlers insisted there was no violence and no physical harm inflicted.
"This judicial system is really messed up," said Mayweather's current partner, Shantel "Miss" Jackson, in the documentary. "How can someone who really didn't do anything have to suffer a consequence for something of this magnitude? It really does anger me, because how can a lie get so far?"
The doctor's report tells a different story, of bruising and contusions.
So does Harris' next document, a handwritten statement then 11-year-old Koraun Mayweather gave to police. It was Koraun who, according to his written statement to police, ran for help when he "saw my Dad hit[t]ing" and "kicking my Mom."
Yahoo! Sports reviewed copies of the doctor's report and Koraun's written statements to police. Harris declined to make the copies public. According to her representative, she did not want to distract Mayweather so close to a fight.
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The altercation happened when Mayweather returned to Harris' property at 5 a.m. on September 9. Police had already been summoned following a verbal dispute hours earlier, but Mayweather came back. Harris says she was asleep on the living room couch when she woke up to Mayweather, holding her cell phone, yelling at her about text messages from NBA guard C.J. Watson.
Mayweather and Harris were no longer together; the boxer had by then installed Jackson in his home and as his main love interest. But, according to Harris, it was not acceptable to Mayweather for her to see other men while living in a house he owned.
"Are you having sex with C.J.?" Mayweather yelled at Harris, according to the arrest report.
"Yes, that is who I am seeing now," she replied.
Mayweather then grabbed her by the hair and punched her in the back of the head "with a closed fist several times," according to the report. He then pulled her off the couch by her hair and twisted her left arm.
Yahoo! Sports reached out to Mayweather for comment via chief adviser, Leonard Ellerbe, and lawyer, Richard Wright. Neither responded.
"All I heard is, 'Who is C.J. Watson, C.J. Watson the basketball player?' " Harris says. "From there it was just … bad. I was powerless. He was holding me down. I couldn't fight back. The kids were screaming and crying, 'You're hurting my Mom.' "
At one point, Mayweather yelled, "I'm going to kill you and the man you are messing around with," Harris told police. "I'm going to have you both disappear."
According to the arrest report, when Harris screamed for her children to call for help, Mayweather turned to them and warned he would "beat their ass if they left the house and called police."
Mayweather's friend James "P-Reala" McNair accompanied the fighter to Harris' house that night. Koraun told police McNair blocked a stairway, so he ran out a door in the back of the house to get help and alerted the complex's security patrol.
If he hadn't, Harris believes the incident may have ended tragically.
"There is no telling," she says, taking a deep breath and clasping her hands together. "In the heat of the moment you are upset and enraged and you pick up a lamp …
"He could have hit me in the head in the wrong place. … I could have died. He would've been on murder charges. I could've grabbed a knife from the kitchen, stabbed him – anything."
McNair tells a different story.
"The only people who truly know the truth is Floyd and Josie," McNair said in the documentary. "But when I was there, from what I saw, I don't see a reason why he should be jail."
Perhaps the most surprising part is that the relationship between Harris and Mayweather has been rebuilt. While she could barely look at him during custody hearings in the following months and he bristled with blame ahead of his jail time, they have re-established a level of closeness, including, Harris says, one intimate encounter since his release.
On the evening of this interview, Mayweather's private jet collected Harris and the children at Burbank Airport and flew them to Vegas for a Rihanna concert at the Mandalay Bay.
To Harris, who has nearly completed a book about her 12-year relationship with Mayweather, it remains a love story, albeit a dysfunctional one torn apart when the boxer's gravitation toward celebrity culture became an occasional habit that morphed into a permanent lifestyle.
Like much of Mayweather's life it is complicated, but Harris says contact is more regular and deeper in the lead-up to fights, when he seeks past familiarities to narrow his focus.Any bitterness no longer lingers. It's been replaced by perspective.
While too much has passed for her and Mayweather to ever live together again, she says they still love each other, that he is a "doting father" and that the children return happy following every visit with him.
"[I'm sure] he feels what he did was wrong, but he still hasn't apologized," Harris said. "I don't know if he thinks I deserved it, [and] if he doesn't need to apologize to the kids because he is the father."
School is out in Valencia and Koraun Mayweather would rather hang with his friends at the skate park than board the private jet sent by his dad.
"Why do we always have to do what he decides?" he complains to his mother. He tries to call his father to ask to be excused from the trip but it is 2:30 p.m. and the famously nocturnal Floyd Mayweather is still sleeping, not expected to wake for another hour.
"Your Dad wants to see you and he is being very generous," Josie tells her son. "It is important that we respect that."
In the overall picture of Floyd Mayweather's fiscal extravagance, a private jet is a routine perk. Whether it is renting out an entire theater so he and his daughter can watch a movie, or doling out $100 bills to acquaintances or hard-luck patrons from his hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich., "Money" Mayweather is not a mere nickname, it is a way of life.
The boxer known as "Pretty Boy" Floyd disappeared in 2005, never to return. In its place came the "Money" Mayweather project, complete with a brash, boisterous, rap-tastic persona and a willingness to play the villain.
"His personality totally changed," Harris said.
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In her home, Harris has an album of her and Floyd in the early days of his career, including pictures of a trip to Biloxi, Miss., for a 1998 fight. The images tell of a more innocent time, and Mayweather appears genuinely happy while lurking around in a budget hotel and eating at a hometown café.
Nowadays, with the marketing genius of the "Money" phenomenon fully entrenched, flashing the cash and building a vast collection of shiny toys are extensions of the image and seemingly part of the man.
His ever-increasing fight purses have also been a means to facilitate his love for a bet, with former business partner Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson telling of $250,000 wagers on the halftime scores of NFL games.
Harris has stories that trump that, like when she went to the M Casino to drop off a bag containing $700,000 in cash to settle one of Mayweather's bets. For a woman whose mother suffered from gambling addiction, it was mental torture.
"Floyd bets very risky, high amounts," Harris says, "and I see the same symptoms with him as I would see in my mother when they would lose the bet – mad, upset, taking larger risks to get the money back."
The gambling and the generosity are part of why some fear for Mayweather's future once the bright lights fade and retirement beckons. Seeing him settle into quiet suburban life is even harder to imagine than him getting beaten in the ring.
The example of Mike Tyson hangs over every successful athlete, proof that any amount of wealth can be squandered by fiscal foolery.
"It is a scary thought," Harris says. "Vegas – not a good place for him. Every outskirt is only 15-20 minutes from The Strip, if not a casino right there he can run to."
Mayweather's relationship with money is part of his paradox. He covets it, prioritizes it in his career decisions, yet clearly does not have much respect for what he earns.
When Mayweather wooed Harris back in 2006, he bought her a $500,000, 25-carat diamond ring. After the attack in 2010, she sold it to finance her new life in California and start a business selling Nappiesaks, a baby shower gift.
He buys Jackson handbags by Birkin and diamonds worth a decade's salary to many. Associates are rewarded with cars, watches, designer clothes, but easy money inevitably brings nefarious interest.
"He has told me people have stolen from him, his house was robbed and they thought it was an inside job," Harris says. "The people who are just leeching on … I didn't like that. I wanted Floyd to run his business like a company.
"You [should] clock in and clock out and get a salary, not, 'I'm going to buy you a Rolex or a car.' Is it a charity? A very lucky-ass charity. They are getting an extreme donation.
"Floyd will give someone the benefit of the doubt, but as soon as he sees disloyalty or sneakiness, they are out, completely cut off," she continues. "I have seen where if he would spot them a Rolex he wants it back."
Fame draws attention, but nothing serves as a people-magnet quite like money, especially a man loose with it.
Mayweather's publicist fired off a toxic letter of disgust when his entourage was described as the equivalent to that of a military dictator.
But the number of people around Mayweather is extraordinary, and few go unrewarded.
Harris reveals she suffered depression and anxiety after the 2010 incident and that she and the children all had therapy.
Time has healed, however, and having found peace and stability in California, she is able to deal with Mayweather's behavioral quirks as his friend, confidante and occasional romantic partner far better than she ever could while they were together.
"I honestly feel he deserves to do whatever he wants with his life," Harris says. "Floyd came from poverty, with his mom on drugs and his dad being abusive. We had kids young and he never had a chance to be successful, famous and single. I think he needs to experience that."
Mayweather has the cars and the houses and all that jewelry. Harris believes he wanted a loving family life, too, yet with the added perks of girlfriends, mistresses, casual flings and strippers thrown in.
Few things sting Harris more than memories of Christmas Day, 2009. Having reconciled and living together in Las Vegas, Mayweather drove her and the children to a new home, already fully furnished and with the children's bedrooms decorated. It was for them to live in while he remained at his main residence.
"I was like, 'That's not what I want; that's not what I came back here for,' " she says, her voice quivering slightly. "That is where most of the problems began. It showed he was not committed to being a family man. It was not morally acceptable to me."
Less than a year later, the new property was the scene of Mayweather's attack.
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Harris hasn't seen "30 Days in May", but has heard plenty about it, her phone blowing up with texts and calls within moments of the first screening. As we chat, she enjoys hearing of a bizarre scene filmed immediately before Mayweather was driven to jail, where he held out a wad of cash and Jackson grasped it a little too eagerly, and Mayweather's parting final words were orders of where to store his Benz rather than any declaration of love.
Harris is more amused to hear of footage of his Atlanta hotel after-party with a bevy of naked strippers than the general theme of the documentary that sought to minimize his apparent guilt.
"The story they are not telling is they are saying this in front of the kids that he did it in front of," Harris said. "You are calling your son a liar. You are calling your daughter a liar. You are calling your eldest son a liar."
Talking about it riles Harris, but her long-standing feelings for Mayweather are never far beneath the surface. She can't accept what he did, but neither will she forget the long hours with him training in a stinking gym in the Vegas "ghetto" soon after he moved out from Michigan, accompanied only by uncle Roger and a couple of friends.
And she recalls when he would go out on late-night training runs and she would rollerblade behind. Or later, when she would drive with the kids, going so slowly that passing drivers honked in frustration.
Part of boxing's mystique has long been its relationship with the grittier side of society. While Mayweather seems unable to control his personal life, his boxing discipline is just as unshakeable as ever. Jailbird Mayweather just gives the advertising gurus a juicy extra hook.
Guerrero might be a four-weight champion, but he is relatively unknown in the wider sporting community. He will attempt what 42 others (Mayweather has beaten Jose Luis Castillo twice) have tried and failed. Defeating Mayweather has become boxing's Holy Grail, but since a split-decision win over Oscar De La Hoya in 2007, no one has come close.
So what motivates Floyd Mayweather Jr. when the challenges are minimal and the challengers out-matched? What keeps his focus laser-guided as madness swirls in his personal life?
"It is the money," Harris said. "And not to get hit. He really does believe getting hit a lot causes damage so being defensive is a good balance. He wants to be around to see his kids have kids. That is huge to him."
If preparation is the necessity, and winning the formality, money is the prize.
"That is the reward. He prides himself off that more than the belts," says Harris. "He loves that he can hop on a private jet or buy any watch or buy any ring."
In the existence of Floyd Mayweather Jr., anything can, and probably will happen. He is an unscripted man with a life that does not conform to either social norm or any rules other than his own.
Expect the unexpected, the bizarre, the scandalous.
Just don't expect him to lose, because that is the one thing that will never be allowed to be considered.
"Floyd doesn't put himself in a position where he can lose," Harris said. "You can take that how you want to."
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